Local councils slammed for not going after criminal landlords

More than a quarter of local authorities in England have failed to prosecute a single landlord over the last five years – and a further half are prosecuting fewer than two a year.

In total, 2,006 criminal landlords have been convicted in the past five years, with the average fine being just £1,500.

The data comes from responses to Freedom of Information requests by the Residential Landlords Association.

Lawyer David Smith, policy director of the RLA, said: “Tenants and good landlords are being let down.

“Councils have plenty of powers to enforce standards in private rented housing and tackle criminal landlords. It is sad that at best the record on enforcement is patchy and at worst non-existent.”

The RLA is campaigning for councils to drop licensing schemes and use their existing powers instead to bring criminal landlords to justice.

It points out that these powers will be significantly beefed up under the new Housing and Planning Bill, which will introduce a register of rogue landlords and agents, and for the first time, give a legal mechanism for criminal agents to be banned from the industry.

The RLA also says that the Bill makes landlord licensing schemes redundant because councils will be able to collect information about tenure and landlords on Council Tax forms.

Smith said: “The Housing Bill makes clear that landlord licensing schemes are not needed and serve only as a money raising exercise by councils.

“Local authorities now have serious questions to answer. Why are they charging good landlords when they can collect the information they need to drive out criminal landlords using council tax registration forms for free.”

According to Citizens Advice, rogue landlords are milking the State benefits system.

Chief executive Gillian Guy said: “Dodgy landlords make as much as £5.6 billion a year from renting out homes that don’t meet legal standards and £1.3 billion of this bill is picked up by the state in the form of housing benefit.

“Tenants are having to pay soaring rents despite severe damp, rat infestations and even the risk of explosions.”

Shelter has claimed that almost half a million private rental homes have bad living conditions, including damp, mould, electrical hazards and infestations.

Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb said: “The Government must to do more to protect renters from the rogue landlords who let out these shoddy properties, so that every renter can feel safe in their own home.”

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7 Comments

  1. Will

    Refreshing to see the RLA are using  the term criminal landords where it is appropriate.  I guess some of the  houses Shelter refer to as being mould and infested could be resolved by evicting tenants who do not look after properties properly by not ventilating them (encouraging condensation and mould growth), leaving food out and rubbish stacked in gardens etc attracting vermin. That would at least reduce the statistics shelter use to “Landlord Bash”. Of course dangerous property and those below reasonable standards should be dealt with by councils under their current powers to drive out the criminal landlords.  The RLA make a very good point that the proposed legislation will make licensing redundant. Mind you will the public  will then not be put on notice that if you want to live in Croydon, Newham etc the whole borough is regarded as an anti-social area (the justification for whole borough licensing).

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    1. jad

      Just a note on the Croydon issue – If the Council in their greed wish to place the whole Borough in a ‘Licensing Zone’ are they implying by their actions that the whole Borough is an ‘Anti Social’ Area   that needs this form of Control ? and if that is their excuse, what are the Police, Trading Standards, Environmental Health And other Council Officers doing about it ?  or will they just use the same old answer when things go wrong – ‘Lessons have been learnt from this’ !!!!!   Licensing is just an excuse for extracting even more money and forcing rents up and up, or maybe it’s just me being cynical as usual

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      1. Will

        Only around £27m cynical.  It is just my little dig at a rogue borough.  To justify licensing it is based on the areas being anti social so I guess that does mean your comments must be correct.

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  2. smile please

    2006 convictions in over 5 years – Yet Some councils feel that landlords need to be licensed (which consists of just taking money).

    Why to the councils just not use the powers they have?

    At the current conviction rate that is only 33 convictions nationwide every month. Given the millions of homes rented is this really a big problem?

    Sounds like another stealth tax to me ….

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    1. Will

      licensing rakes in dosh.  enforcing from the current budget is money going out.  You can see why whole borough licensing attracts rogue boroughs

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  3. jad

    On behalf of the ‘Good Guys’ of which I am sure there are many, I breathe a sigh of relief when action is taken in the ‘Right Direction’ I for one am sick to death of this term ‘Rogue Landlord’ in nearly 20 years of Landlording No one has ever wagged this title at me or even hinted at being treated with anything other than respect.  I don’t inflate expense claims, buy Duck Ponds, or make false allegations against Police that later earn me a title of ‘Liar’ by a High Court Judge……….  so let’s see some positive action from those who should be showing it, then worry about rushing out legislation against Landlords who in the great majority, do not deserve it !!

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  4. MF

    My hat off to the RLA.  Sterling work on behalf of the industry as a whole.

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